Cloisters of Saint John Lateran, Rome. Source:

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

The Seven Penitential Psalms. Part Four.

Roman Text is taken from The Liturgical Year, by Abbot Guéranger, O.S.B.
Translated from the French by Dom Laurence Shepherd, O.S.B.
Volume 4. Septuagesima.

Bold Italic Text is taken from Wikipedia - the free encyclopaedia,
unless otherwise stated.

File:Saint Augustine Portrait.jpg

English: Saint Augustine of Hippo.
Deutsch: Hl. Augustinus in betrachtendem Gebet.
Four of the Penitential Psalms
were well known to Saint Augustine of Hippo.
Artist: Sandro Botticelli (1445–1510).
Date: Circa 1480.
Current location: Florence, Italy.
Notes: Deutsch: Auftraggeber: wahrscheinlich aus der Familie der Vespucci (Wappen).
Source/Photographer: The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei.
DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH.
Permission: [1].
(Wikimedia Commons)

Psalm 50.

Psalm 50.
Miserere Mei Deus.
Available on YouTube at

The Penitential Psalms, or Psalms of Confession, so named in Cassiodorus's commentary of the 6th-Century A.D., are Psalms 6323850102130, and 143 (6, 31, 37, 50, 101, 129, and 142 in the Septuagint numbering).

Note: The Septuagint numbering system has been used throughout this Series of Articles.

Psalm 6.      Domine ne in furore tuo (Pro octava).

Psalm 31.    Beati quorum remissae sunt iniquitates.
Psalm 37.    Domine ne in furore tuo (In rememorationem de sabbato).
Psalm 50.    Miserere mei Deus.
Psalm 101.  Domine exaudi orationem meam et clamor meus ad te veniat.
Psalm 129.  De profundis clamavi.
Psalm 142.  Domine exaudi orationem meam auribus percipe obsecrationem meam.

A Setting by Lassus of Psalm 129,
"De profundis clamavi ad te Domine"
("Out of the depths have I cried unto Thee, O Lord").
Psalm 129 is one of the Seven Penitential Psalms.
Available on YouTube on


Part Four.

The grief and Prayer of David, when the Prophet, Nathan, was sent, by God, to reproach him for the twofold crime he had committed by his sin with Bethsabee, are the subject of this Psalm.

Psalm 50. Miserere mei Deus.

Miserere mei Deus:
* Secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.

Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum:
* Dele iniquitatem meam.

Amplius lava me ab iniquitate mea:
* Et a peccato meo munda me.

Quoniam iniquitatem meam ego cognosco:
* Et peccatum meum contra me est semper.

File:Saint Augustine Portrait.jpg

Tibi soli peccavi, et malum coram te feci:
* Ut justificeris in sermonibus tuis et vincas cum judicaris.

Ecce enim in iniquitatibus conceptus sum:
* Et in peccatis concepit me mater mea.

Ecce enim veritatem dilexisti:
* Incerta et occulta sapientiae tuae manifestasti mihi.

Asperges me hyssopo, et mundabor:
* Lavabis me, et super nivem dealbabor.

File:Saint Augustine Portrait.jpg

Auditui meo dabis gaudium et laetitiam:
* Et exsultabunt ossa humiliata.

Averte faciem tuam a peccatis meis:
* Et omnes iniquitates meas dele.

Cor mundum crea in me Deus:
* Et spiritum rectum innova in visceribus meis.

Ne projicias me a facie tua:
* Et Spiritum sanctum tuum ne auferas a me.

File:Saint Augustine Portrait.jpg

Redde mihi laetitiam salutaris tui:
* Et spiritu principali confirma me.

Docebo iniquos vias tuas:
* Et impii ad te convertentur.

Libera me de sanguinibus, Deus, Deus salutis meae:
* Et exsultabit lingua mea justitiam tuam.

Domine, labia mea aperies:
* Et os meum annuntiabit laudem tuam.

File:Saint Augustine Portrait.jpg

Quoniam si voluisses sacrificium, dedissem utique:
* Holocaustis non delectaberis.

Sacrificium Deo spiritus contribulatus:
* Cor contritum et humiliatum, Deus, non despicies.

Benigne fac, Domine, in bona voluntate tua Sion:
* Ut aedificentur muri Jerusalem.

Tunc acceptabis sacrificium justitiae, oblationes, et holocausta:
* tunc imponent super altare tuum vitulos.

File:Saint Augustine Portrait.jpg

Have mercy on me, O God:
According to Thy great mercy.

And according to the multitude
of Thy tender mercies:
Blot out my iniquity.

Wash me yet more from my iniquity:
And cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my iniquity:
And my sin is always before me.

File:Saint Augustine Portrait.jpg

To Thee only have I sinned
and have done evil before Thee:
That Thou mayst be justified in Thy words,
and mayst overcome when Thou are judged.

For behold ! I was conceived in iniquities:
And in sins did my mother conceive me.

For behold ! Thou hast loved truth:
The uncertain and hidden things of Thy wisdom
Thou hast made manifest to me.

Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop,
and I shall be cleansed:
Thou shalt wash me,
and I shall be made
whiter than snow.

File:Saint Augustine Portrait.jpg

To my hearing Thou shalt give joy and gladness:
And the bones that have been humbled, shall rejoice.

Turn away Thy face from my sins:
And blot out all my iniquities.

Create a clean heart in me, O God:
And renew a right spirit within my bowels.

Cast me not away from Thy face:
And take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.

File:Saint Augustine Portrait.jpg

Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation:
And strengthen me with a perfect spirit.

I will teach the unjust Thy ways:
And the wicked shall be converted to Thee.

Deliver me from blood, O God,
Thou God of my salvation !:
And my tongue shall extol Thy justice.

O Lord, Thou wilt open my lips:
And my mouth shall declare Thy praise.

File:Saint Augustine Portrait.jpg

For if Thou hadst desired sacrifice,
I would indeed have given it:
With burnt offerings Thou wilt not be delighted.

A sacrifice to God is an afflicted spirit:
A contrite and humbled heart, O God,
Thou wilt not despise.

Deal favourably, O Lord, in Thy good-will, with Sion:
That the walls of Jerusalem may be built up.

Then shalt Thou accept the sacrifice of justice,
oblations, and whole-burnt offerings:
Then shall they lay calves upon Thine altar.

File:Saint Augustine Portrait.jpg

The Seven Penitential Psalms are expressive of sorrow for sin. Four were known as 'Penitential Psalms' by Saint Augustine of Hippo in the early 5th-Century. Psalm 50 (Miserere) was recited at the close of daily Morning Service in the Primitive Church.

Translations of the Penitential Psalms were undertaken by some of the greatest poets in Renaissance England, including Sir Thomas WyattHenry Howard, Earl of Surrey, and Sir Philip Sidney. Before the Suppression of the Minor Orders and Tonsure, in 1972, by Pope Paul VI, the Seven Penitential Psalms were assigned to new Clerics after having been Tonsured.

Orlande de Lassus'
"Psalmi Davidis poenitentiales".

This is a Setting of Psalm 6, "Domine, ne in furore tuo arguas me",
("O Lord, do not reprove me in Thy wrath, nor in Thy anger chastise me").
Psalm 6 is the first of the Seven Penitential Psalms.
Available on YouTube on

Perhaps the most famous musical setting of all the Seven Penitential Psalms is by Orlande de Lassus, with his Psalmi Davidis poenitentiales of 1584. There are also fine settings by Andrea Gabrieli and by Giovanni Croce. The Croce pieces are unique in being settings of Italian sonnet-form translations of the Psalms by Francesco Bembo. These were widely distributed. They were translated into English and published in London as Musica Sacra and were even translated (back) into Latin and published in Nürnberg as Septem Psalmi poenitentiales.

William Byrd set all Seven Psalms in English versions for three voices in his Songs of Sundrie Natures (1589). Settings of individual Penitential Psalms have been written by many composers. Well-known settings of the Miserere (Psalm 50) include those by Gregorio Allegri and Josquin des Prez. Settings of the De profundis (Psalm 129) include two in the Renaissance era by Josquin.


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